Zimbabwe starts running a foreign currency auction system today amid expectations this will ease fuel challenges by increasing the availability of foreign currency to oil companies for fuel procurement, Energy and Power Development Minister Fortune Chasi has said.
He said this in an interview on the sidelines of the commissioning of a solar powered Petrotrade service station in Mabvuku last week.
"The full details will emanate when this new system tracks in," he said.
"We will know what we are able to get in terms of foreign currency and what we are able to purchase in terms of fuel."
Minister Chasi said the Government was aware of the challenges that members of the pubic were facing in terms of fuel.
"We are happy that RBZ and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development have developed this system," he said.
Further, Minister Chasi encouraged fuel companies to adopt solar energy to power their operations and to consider it as a separate line of business to boost their income.
Petrotrade invested $8.3 million in solar, a move which Minister Chasi said should be emulated by other players in the industry.
"We encourage players in the fuel industry to go solar as this process helps in import substitution," he said. "We are encouraging all service stations to go in that direction and this will be done through moral persuasion or Government may come up with a regulation. It makes business sense as companies will benefit through reduced ZETDC service charges.
"We are seriously looking at incentivising those who go for solar. This is subject to approval by authorities. We want this implemented."
Minister Chasi said he was impressed by the capabilities of young Zimbabweans in the energy sector, which was evident at Harava solar project in Seke.
"Solar energy should not be confined to service stations only," he said. "We are putting incentives to help recoup investment. This is in line with the energy policy recently launched by President Mnangagwa."
The minister applauded Petrotrade for establishing fuel stations nearer to the people and in remote areas to reduce the distance travelled by motorists to refill.
Petrotrade chief executive Mr Godfrey Ncube said Mabvuku was their first service station to use solar energy and the company was going to ensure all the new stations were powered by renewable energy.
"We believe renewable energy like solar system is the way to go and as an energy company owned by Government, we want to take the lead," he said.
"Mabvuku service station is the second 100-day project after the one in Beitbridge, which we opened last year."